10 Tips for Creating Accessible Course Content

Note: These tips are a starting point for creating accessible course content; for additional information or if questions arise, please contact Aaron Holmes, Interim Access Specialist at aholmes@miracosta.edu

  1. Accessibility Statement added to syllabus. Include: 1) Disability Accommodations statement; 2) Links to vendor accessibility information for specialty products used in your course.
    Resources: MiraCosta’s syllabus checklist has examples of recommended language.
  2. Semantic Structure (or Styles) always used to create structure in Canvas, Word, on web pages, etc. Do not use font features for structure – rather use Heading 1 for Document Title (only one per page/document); Heading 2 for all Section Titles; Heading 3 for all Sub-section Titles. Table of Contents if used, should be based on the Heading structure.
    Resources: Making Headers in MS Word  |  Creating Accessible Documents Word (WebAIM)
    UDOIT checks semantic structure in Canvas
  3. True Formatting in Documents through use of bulleted or numbered lists, true columns, and true tables instead of using returns, spaces, or tabs to create faux structure. Tables properly designate column/row headers and include a caption if needed to explain complex tables.
    Resources: Creating Accessible Documents Word (WebAIM) | UDOIT checks formatting in Canvas
  4. Ensure Readability Divide large blocks of text into smaller more manageable sections; avoid complex sentences; use sans-serif font at approximately 12 points. Ensure reading order is correct when screen readers are used (beware text boxes and other non-sequential methods for adding text).
    Resources: Website Readability assessment tool
  5. Text Equivalents (ALT Text) for every non-text element such as image, chart or graph. A clear, concise description 100 characters or less that is provided via Format Picture. If ALT text alone is insufficient, provide Long Description in surrounding text or as separate document.
    Resources: Creating Accessible Word Documents | Adding Alt Text to an Image in Word 2013 (You Tube video)
    UDOIT checks for alt text in Canvas
  6. Avoid Color Coding and Flashing Content Color alone should not be the sole means of conveying important information, adding emphasis, or inviting an action. Flashing content should be avoided unless instructionally needed, and if so, no more than three times per second.
    Resources: How to Not Rely on Color
  7. Sufficient Color Contrast between foreground text and the background.
    Resources: WebAIM Color Contrast CheckerUDOIT checks color contrast in Canvas
  8. Descriptive Hyperlinks Hyperlinks should be readable and descriptive; avoid vague descriptions like “Click Here” or “Email Me”. Avoid using the URL. Instead, hyperlink text should describe the action and/or destination resulting from selecting the link.
    Resources: WebAIM Hyperlink Guidance
  9. Accessibility Checkers: always use the software’s built-in Accessibility Checker (UDOIT in Canvas, Word, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). Follow the Repair recommendations provided by the Accessibility Checker to fix errors.
    Resources: Check for Accessibility Issues in Microsoft Office | Check for Accessibility Issues in Adobe Acrobat
    UDOIT Accessibility Checker in Canvas
  10. Multimedia and Other File Formats/Tools
    Audio should be accompanied by accurate text transcripts. Audio should not auto-play.
    Video should include at minimum accurate closed captions. Video should not auto-play.
    Synchronous interaction tools (e.g. Zoom) should have an option for live captioning if required.
    PowerPoint files

    should be created with accessible layouts, with all text visible in Outline View.
    Spreadsheets should include row, column, and chart labels, with textual descriptions as needed.
    Resources:  Request DECT captioning when you upload your videos to 3C Media Solutions [Note: this is not available due to funding until July 1, 2020].
    Creating Subtitles and Closed Captions on Your YouTube Videos | Use Canvas Studio’s Captioning Features | Requesting Live Captioning for ConferZoom | WebAIM PowerPoint Accessibility | Microsoft Excel Accessibility